Twitter Tries to Guide Brands on Its Platform Through the Coronavirus Crisis

The social network reminded them that it’s not a marketing opportunity

Illustration of two men in suits with face masks
One-on-one interactions on Twitter are an effective customer-service tool for brands.
Sesame/iStock

Twitter shared a series of best practices for how brands should be communicating via its platform during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Twitter Next global head Alex Josephson and director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa Eimear Lambe stressed in a blog post Wednesday, “Let’s be clear: This is not a ‘marketing opportunity’ to capitalize on, and we do not recommend brands opportunistically linking themselves to a health scare. However, we want to recognize that this is a new reality and requires thoughtful navigation, from all of us. We also know that Twitter is a platform that plays a significant role in crisis communications, and it can be a powerful tool for you to communicate with your customers, employees and the broader ecosystem at times like this. So, while this is not a typical crisis, we’d like to share the advice we give in difficult circumstances.”

They wrote that brands must understand the unique roles they play in people’s lives, how those roles have changed due to the coronavirus and what they can do to help, rather than copying what other brands are doing.

Josephson and Lambe wrote, “Things are changing fast, what might have felt like a good message yesterday might not be the right thing today. Keep a close eye on the news and conversation, and be sure to consider the context before replying or broadcasting. And note, sometimes it’s better not to say anything at all.”

Tone is also important during a crisis such as the current pandemic, and the social network pointed out that this may not be the best time to be snarky or sarcastic, instead opting for empathy, understanding and certain types of humor.

Josephson and Lambe addressed changes in consumer behavior as a result of the pandemic, nothing that retail brands should be prepared for the increased shift to ecommerce, and businesses planning events should be prepared to embrace livestreaming.

Brands on Twitter should also focus on what people need right now as the crisis unfolds, Josephson and Lambe wrote, suggesting that brands with information that may help people navigate through the uncertainty or keep people calm should be sharing it.

They added, “For example, retail/ecommerce brands can keep the public updated on stock to help mitigate panic buying. If you have important information that affects your company, or your employees (e.g. around transmission of the virus), you may want to consider sharing that publicly.”

Josephson and Lambe also pointed out that one-on-one interactions on Twitter are an effective way for brands that are more impacted by Covid-19 to provide support to customers, such as airlines, cruise lines, hospitality brands and tourism bureaus.

And on the less serious side, they wrote, “In times like this, when the news cycle can be overwhelming, a bit of light distraction and entertainment can go a long way. The reality is that the average Twitter timeline is a mix of news, information and interests. In fact, since Jan. 1, COVID-19-related tweets only represent 1% of total tweets that have been sent on Twitter.”

Josephson and Lambe concluded, “We’ve also seen non-COVID-19 related positive stories capture people’s attention, because good things continue to happen, despite the context right now. Brands should continue to connect with and celebrate these moments, as and when appropriate. This could apply to events, trends and occasions from #IWD2020 to sports, TV premieres and culture.”

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